Drug and Alcohol Complaints Before the Missouri Board of Nursing
Allegations involving drugs or alcohol are among the most common reasons nurses receive complaints from the Board of Nursing. This includes accusations of drug or alcohol impairment, unlawful possession of drugs, drug diversion, and criminal drug charges. Whether you have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or accused of diverting prescription medication, Dolley Law, LLC can help defend you against drug or alcohol related charges levied by the Missouri Board of Nursing. The Firm’s attorneys have significant experience defending such cases before the Board, Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC), and other agencies.
Defending Nurses in Drug and Alcohol Cases
Each nurse's case is different. The Firm handles cases involving significant questions as to whether a drug or alcohol complaint rises to the level of a violation of the Nursing Practices Act to cases involving potential criminal liability, to cases involving review of disciplinary terms, such as substance abuse counseling and treatment, to allow a nurse to maintain his or her nursing practice. We understand that there are often mitigating circumstances relating to chemical dependency and that each Nursing Board complaint must be evaluated based upon the particular facts and circumstances of the case.
Missouri Board of Nursing Standards in Drug and Alcohol Cases
Missouri registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses may be disciplined for a variety of drug and alcohol-related conduct. These include positive drug screens, DWIs, criminal drug charges, intoxication or impairment at work, and chemical dependency. The process starts with a complaint or self-report to the Board and proceeds through the disciplinary process. Complaints may result in an evidentiary hearing before the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) or be heard directly by the Board. Nurses accused of misconduct have the right to see the evidence against them, testify on their own behalf, call witnesses, and present evidence. If a nurse successfully defends against the Board’s allegations, the case ends with a finding that the nurse is not subject to discipline.
If a nurse is found subject to discipline, there is a second hearing before the Board. A nurse may also choose to enter into a settlement agreement with the Board and forego the hearing process. In drug and alcohol cases, the Missouri Board of Nursing regularly seeks to impose significant drug and alcohol testing requirements before it agrees to allow a nurse to maintain his or her nursing license. This may include daily calls to a testing service and multiple tests per month. Dolley Law, LLC represents clients in disciplinary hearings before the Board and presents mitigating evidence and legal arguments on their behalf. The Firm’s attorneys also counsel and advise clients on settlement agreement terms and the appropriate course of action for each case.
Many nurses decide to represent themselves in drug and alcohol cases before the Board. These are legal proceedings that may include trial-type hearings in which witnesses testify and evidence is presented. If you are notified of a nursing board complaint made against you, have a complaint pending before the Administrative Hearing Commission, or are charged with a probation violation, we strongly encourage nurses to contact our Firm directly to discuss possible representation. We work with nurses in all phases of drug and alcohol cases, from responding to the initial complaint to negotiating settlement terms to conducting hearings. The Firm’s attorneys work with nurses to evaluate the allegations, discuss the factors upon which the Board of Nursing evaluates drug and alcohol cases, and explain their options. The Firm can provide aggressive, experienced representation designed to protect nurses’ licenses and careers.
The Missouri Board of Nursing and DWI Cases
A DWI does not necessarily mean your Missouri nursing license is subject to discipline. If the Board accused you of a "moral turpitude" violation relating to a DWI charge, it is far from certain that the Board will be successful in establishing a violation of the Nursing Practices Act. Missouri law may prevent the Board from imposing discipline based upon a single DWI. Proper representation during the criminal process and the initial stage of the Board disciplinary process is critical to ensure your license and ability to work are protected.
Complaints based upon DWIs typically begin in criminal court. A nurse in this situation may not receive a complaint from the Board until the criminal process ends, but it is important to think ahead and take the steps needed to protect your license from the outset. Dolley Law, LLC provides comprehensive representation to nurses facing criminal and licensing cases. If you are a nurse arrested for or charged with driving while intoxicated, contact our attorneys today.
Nurses who plead guilty to or are convicted of DWI must report it to the Board. The Board will then investigate the circumstances and often directs nurses to provide additional information. Navigating this process correctly is critical for nurses who ultimately may not be subject to discipline. It is important to provide the proper response to ensure you do not receive unwarranted or excessive discipline.
The Board may nonetheless pursue discipline against nurses based on DWIs in certain situations. These complaints proceed to either an evidentiary hearing before the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) or go directly to a hearing before the Board. Settlement negotiations may occur before a hearing. Nurses faced with legal proceedings need experienced, competent attorneys who understand the issues and the law.
Drug Diversion or Possession Cases
Unlawful possession of a controlled substance (including marijuana) may subject a nurse to discipline. A criminal charge or conviction is not necessary. Nurses who are accused of diverting narcotics or using controlled substances without a prescription may face discipline from the Board. Documentation errors, late wastes, or missing administration records may lead to a false accusation of diversion. An employer may believe a nurse is using or stealing narcotics based upon issues with the employer’s records and documentation practices. Nurses may face serious accusations of misconduct that require extensive review of records, policies and practices to successfully defend. Dolley Law, LLC has defended many nurses in similar situations and knows what to look for in hospital records to defeat these allegations. Do not face accusations of diversion alone—contact Dolley Law, LLC the moment you receive a complaint alleging medication diversion or theft.
Nurses also face disciplinary complaints for possession of controlled substances unrelated to their work. If you are arrested or charged with possession of a controlled substance, contact the Firm for representation in your criminal and administrative cases. Decisions made at the outset of the process can impact what happens to your license and career. You need an attorney who understands the disciplinary issues facing nurses charged with drug crimes and who can provide complete representation designed to protect your license, career, and freedom.
Drug or Alcohol Impairment Cases
Use of drugs or alcohol to a point that impairs a nurse’s ability to perform his or her job duties is a violation of the Nursing Practice Act. Positive drug tests and blood alcohol tests over .08 can create a rebuttable presumption of intoxication or illegal possession. Similarly, a pattern of illegal drug use, prescription drug abuse, and habitual intoxication by alcohol provide cause for discipline. These cases are fact-intensive and require both medical and legal knowledge. The Board must prove its case with competent evidence, which can include witness testimony, toxicology testing, and expert testimony regarding nursing standards. Positive drug or alcohol tests can be false, and the Board must meet certain requirements before tests can be entered into evidence. To defend such actions, nurses need an attorney with the relevant medical and legal knowledge who thoroughly understands the issues surrounding drug tests, alcohol tests, and intoxication. The attorneys at Dolley Law, LLC have decades of experience defending nurses and a deep understanding of the evidentiary and legal requirements involved in these cases.
Employment Drug Screens
The Board may pursue complaints against nurses who fail to submit to a drug or alcohol screening requested by their employer and/or the Board. At the same time, the Board can seek discipline against nurses who test positive on such tests. This includes pre-employment drug screens and positive marijuana tests. Nurses faced with routine or for-cause employer drug screens need legal counsel immediately. Decisions made while still employed can impact your license and future employment opportunities for years. The attorneys at Dolley Law, LLC understand the issues and have counseled nurses in similar situations many times. Contact our Firm at any time if faced with issues related to drug testing or if you receive a complaint from the Board for a refused or failed test.
Drug or Alcohol Intervention Programs
The Missouri Legislature recently directed the Board to implement intervention programs for nurses with positive drug tests, substance abuse disorders, and criminal convictions related to drugs or alcohol. These programs allow nurses to avoid public discipline of their licenses after completing a period of probation. Nurses facing complaints for these reasons may be eligible for these intervention programs. Nurses who are offered these programs need to understand the terms and potential consequences for violations before agreeing to enter one of these programs. Violations could result in additional discipline, up to and including license suspension or revocation.
Dolley Law, LLC has helped nurses successfully apply for and complete the Board’s intervention program. The Firm’s attorneys are familiar with the programs’ requirements and can advise you as to whether you are eligible. Our attorneys also understand the consequences and potential difficulties nurses face when agreeing to enter an intervention program. Nurses who are accused of violating a non-disciplinary consent agreement have the right to challenge that accusation through a hearing before the Board. If you receive a drug or alcohol-related complaint or are accused of violating the terms of an intervention program, contact Dolley Law, LLC.
Contact Dolley Law, LLC regarding a drug or alcohol complaint at (314) 645-4100 to schedule a consultation.